I admit it: I used to think that all of the agonizing over whether a mom should go back to work after having a baby was a little...dramatic. I thought that those women should make their decisions and get on with it. Go to work. Don't go to work. Whatever. But quit going on The Today Show and writing books about whether you're working at home or working outside the home. Enough.
But then I had a baby, and I understood. The agonizing, the constant need to talk about my decision, the wondering if I made the right one.
I like to go to work, and I like what I do. I like having a venue for my creative impulses, and I like talking about topics unrelated to sippy cups, poop and naps. And I have a fabulous schedule that allows me to work from home half of the week, which gives me much more time with Hadley than most working moms get with their kids.
Still, I feel a dull ache in my heart when I walk out the door. I fight the urge to call home every 15 minutes to find out what she's doing. And when I leave to come home, the elevator from the 9th floor to the parking garage feels so slow, and the drive home--seven minutes, tops--feels like it stretches on forever.
But the reward is sweet: Hadley looks out our big picture window and grins. Glows. I can barely resist running in and swooping her up and holding her for hours. (She wouldn't tolerate it. She's far too interested in cruising along the furniture and touching everything that is not made for babies.) She reaches out for me when I get home and gives me the briefest of hugs, and then I breathe again. I feel the little ache melt away, and I smell her baby smell, and I touch her chubby fingers, and she returns to whatever she was doing when I arrived: pulling books off the bookshelf, laughing at Barry the Bear, patting the ottoman, ripping up catalogues and occasionally forgetting that she can't walk without holding on to something.
We came screeching up to our deadline at the magazine this week, and as a result, I've been working at the office a lot more than I usually do. I was there most of the day on Sunday, all day Monday, most of the day yesterday and all day today. I wore my coat around the office for the last hour of the day because all I wanted to do was finish and run out the door. I felt so uneasy and antsy, like my world was off-balance. I missed Hadley wildly.
She seemed no worse for my absence, though Jason said she had been saying, "Mamamamama" on and off for an hour before I got home. That could be a coincidence, but I like to think that she wanted her mama, at least a fraction as much as I wanted my Hadley.
Tomorrow, I am taking the morning to play with Hadley. I think we'll go to the Children's Museum, which has a great area for crawlers to explore. She will love it.
I could pretend that we're going just because she will love it. But the truth is that I will love it more.